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Getting Out the Door



Some days, your house seems to have tentacles that draw you in and keep you there.  No matter how hard you try, you can't escape until you are late.  Your house just isn't happy until you're late.  You are not alone!

But there are ways that you can outsmart your house.  If you can plug your ears and hum, you may already have the skill needed to succeed.

Getting out the door is yet another facet of the Bad Morning.  It's especially bad if you have a family.  Don't get us wrong, families are great, but they don't usually help us get ready to leave the house faster. 

In fact, we have observed in some households that family members will only get ready to leave when someone else starts getting ready.  But no one wants to start first.  What happens when this system fails?  The house wins.  Made you late! 

The Morning Putterer. You prefer to do chores, read the paper or surf the Internet in the morning.  Many days, before you know it, you end up spending so much time puttering that you don't have time to shower before you leave the house. 

The solution to this problem takes some discipline, but here goes: Get ready first!  Focus on ONLY doing things that will help you get out the door.  Make sure to do EVERYTHING that you need to do: pack your lunch, get papers ready to go, find your coat/keys/handbag/water bottle, etc.  Then you know how much time you have to spend puttering and you can still leave at the last minute if you want to.

Clocks May Help 

Despite what you may think, the clock is not your sworn enemy.  Start collecting clocks, enough so that you have one anywhere you spend a lot of time in the morning.

Places to keep a clock:
  • In the bathroom, a small clock on the vanity or counter where you get ready
  • In each room of the house, facing the direction you are most likely to spot it from
  • In the entryway
  • Wear a watch (duh - but it's our job to point out the obvious)

ADDers usually do best with "analog" (non-digital) clocks.  It gives a more visual sense of how much time you have left. Somehow, it doesn't seem as urgent to see a digital display reading 7:55.  But it does seem urgent if you look at an analog clock and realize that it's practically 8:00! 

If possible, buy clocks that have numbers on the face and not just marks (or no marks) in place of the numbers.  Trust us, you do not want to end up an hour late, or an hour early, because you misread the clock. 

Other Ideas For Getting Out The Door:

  • Set a reminder alarm to cue you 15 minutes before you need to leave.
  • Make arrangements to meet someone so you won't put certain things off.
  • Have a standing appointment (or check-in time) with someone to create a daily or weekly routine.
  • Carpool (creates accountablity) - but only if you WILL be on time.
  • Once you leave your house, don't come back until you are back for the day.  You are less likely to leave again to do errands if you come back to your house beforehand.

When Getting Out the Door Isn’t the Problem…

Sometimes harder than getting out the door, is getting something accomplished on a day that you have no reason to leave the house.  We are talking about:

  • Stay at home moms
  • Weekends/Days off
  • Students with homework
  • The self-employed

We thought we should address those days when you really should be doing something, but you find yourself wandering aimlessly around the house in your PJs or mindlessly on the computer playing games or surfing the web.  Here are some suggestions for days that are usually spent this way:

  • Make some kind of standing appointment to start your day – like exercising with a friend – meeting them going for a walk, or a weekly trip to the grocery store – or driving your kids to school instead of sending them on the bus. The key to this strategy is having an outside person to be accountable to.  Once your day is “started” you have some momentum going – momentum you can use to help you stay on task later on in the day.
  • Make a point to get out of bed at a specific time, even if you have no appointments. That way you can maintain a sleep/wake schedule.
  • Get yourself dressed and put together first thing, even if you aren’t leaving home. Groom yourself, at least to the point that if someone were to drop by you wouldn’t have to hide in shame.  It can be as easy as simply brushing your teeth and your hair.  You might want to set a timer to keep you focused on getting ready. 
  • Set a timer and do some surface cleaning if you feel you must do household chores (assuming that chores are NOT on your “to do list” for the day).  Look around - which cleanup tasks would make the biggest impact?  When the timer sounds, it’s time to STOP and move to the next thing.


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